The pond at Windy Willows had green frogs, wonderful, friendly, hop on your lap frogs. Now some people would say, “NO THANKS!” but Sir Winslow's children loved to take their fishing poles and head down to the pond for a lazy summer afternoon. It was the best!
Cook packed a picnic lunch for them this particular day, the fishing gear had been rounded up, worms dug, and galoshes for each of them. There might have even been a pal or two from the village along for this excursion. Lady Suzanne promised to check on the children later in the afternoon and off they set.
Down the winding path through the back gardens, all in a single line, the eldest child William David, carried the basket and brought up the rear. In front of him was Anna Marie. Leading them was nanny Elizabeth wearing a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off. It was quite a spectacle to see!
The grassy meadow that the pond was in had clover, poppy, pheasant’s eye and corncockle.(It was also a hay field that would be mown for the animals in the zoo to eat during the colder months of the year.) It was perfect for picnicking in or just sitting on the bank and fishing. Nanny made sure to pack a book to catch up on her reading while the children played.
Frogs were in great abundance that summer. Walter David’s favorite thing to do was see how many he could catch. He would name them with help from Mabel Emaline and then they would set them free. Sometimes they would build little mud houses for their froggy friends and use wildflowers for decoration.
Fishing was perfect for Margaret Ann, she loved to bring home both carp or the tench so cook could prepare them for dinner. Putting worms on the hook or taking the fish off weren't a problem. Brave child! The children had all learned to fish at an early age, but it was Margaret Ann that was the expert of the family.
Nanny had been reading her book and dozed off in the afternoon sun. Walter David was catching frogs while his sister, built the houses of mud. Lady Suzanne was making her way down the meadow path when they all heard an excited yell from the other side of the pond. All of the children, nanny and Lady Suzanne ran as fast as they could.
Wilson David (the baby of the family) was shouting “l found a purple one, I found a purple one” Lo and behold there was a purple frog! It was a bit bigger than the other green frogs and it had a teal spotted belly. It was decided they should take this frog back to Windy Willows and have Sir Winslow do some research to see what kind it was. In the library were extensive volumes dedicated to all sorts of wild animals and Lady Suzanne thought she had seen a similar one on a trip to India.
It turned out that this one must have hitched a ride to England during one of Sir Winslow’s visits to count Bengal Tiger stripes. The frog comes from the Ghat Mountain range and lives most of its life underground. The purple frog spent many happy summers in the pond, and his winters in a warm aquarium that was built especially for him at the zoo.
Our green frog can be found in our Collection Into the Woods